While we all know our printers, routers, and lasers will work well out of the box and wouldn’t want to get in the way of their superior craftsmanship, some of the more wild and crazy of our brood will dive in to modifying them. These mods can improve not only the quality of the finished product, but in some cases improve the experience of using the tool in the first place. With the often open source nature of these modifications, the entire community benefits from these improvements.
Here are our picks for 2018’s most popular mods and hacks.
Premium PTFE Tubing
One of the easiest mods is moving to a better PTFE tube or liner, especially for your bowden setups. Bringing higher lubricity, better abrasion resistance and sometimes even higher temperature resistance, this simple switch can have your extruder smiling. While Capricorn is the most well known, there are others as well, some even coming in tighter tolerances to assist with Flexible Materials.
IKEA LACK Table Enclosure
A mainstay in the Prusa Community (and their official tutorial is not to be missed) this enclosure is more towards the medium range of difficulty, but brings maximum looks and results. The minimal cost (less than $10) for the table helps offset the acrylic cost, and the end result opens up a lot of functionality by allowing you to print without fear of warping those higher temp materials. Thought was also put into minimizing the danger of printing in an enclosure, by moving sensitive parts outside of the frame, when possible. A community mod well deserving of all the support it gets.
Air Assist Head for Laser Cutters
Those looking to dip their toes into the world of laser cutting on the cheap come across many compromises quickly. One of the first to remedy is adding Air Assist to your laser head, bringing cooling, as well as cleaner cuts and flare up mitigation to your machine. LightObject sells direct replacements, and many 3D Printed ones are also available, just be careful the size doesn’t block your heads movement.
Touch Probe for CNC
There is no place like G28, but a very close second for the chip slingers is Zero! Luckily finding it precisely has gotten almost as easy, with multiple Touch Probe options, from the big boys like Carbide 3D and Inventables, to the homebrew versions. This is a mod well worth your time if your machine doesn’t come with one.
Dust Collection and Fume Extraction
This is a mod that covers almost all of our digi fab machines. Getting the bad stuff, both solid and scented, out of your work area becomes a quick priority, especially for the in home maker. With homebrew cyclone extractors built on shop vacs, and other fan related modifications abounding, making your own can be a great weekend project which can literally save you quite a few headaches. For those whose mess is seen, as well as unseen, dust boots (like the SuckIt) can be purchased or made which will help keep that mess where it belongs.
Super Directed Cooling
One of the mods we saw popping up this year raising some noise was a special custom cooling mod. The Berd-Air Cooler comes out of the MakerHive, showing the great things that happen in makerspaces. Based around a simple pump, and both flexible and metal tubing, this mod will replace your current blower fan setup with a much more direct and exact solution. Allowing extremely directed cooling, right directly around the nozzle, and compatible with most printers out there, this handy add on has developed a legion of fans.
While many of the other mods are easy to adapt to any machine, the Twoolhead only targets one platform, the Lulzbot Taz line. This device replaces your single extruder with a dual extruder that splits your bed in half and allows you to print two of the same object at one time. While for many users, this might not seem very useful, for anyone who is trying to do production work with their printer, this is amazing. The Twoolhead was made by an ex-Lulzbot employee who wanted to take advantage of Lulzbot’s open source design to make products that were too off the wall for Lulzbot to make internally. Our tests of the Twoolhead show that once you get it tuned in, it’s a great way to half your time for making lots of parts and will pay for itself in production work.